St. Patrick's Weekly Bulletin
Volume LI, No. 31


Facing "East" at Solemn Liturgies
St. Augustine: The Grace of Saints Peter and Paul
Lisa Makson: The Pledge of Allegiance - Under God


Parishioners and visitors who participated in the magnificent 11:00 a.m. Solemn Mass, Eucharistic Procession and Solemn Benediction last Sunday, celebrated by the newly ordained priest, Fr. Martin Lawrence, will have noticed that he celebrated the Liturgy of the Eucharist at our historic High Altar in the posture appropriate to the celebrant of the Mass for the entire Christian epoch until after the Second Vatican Council. The Church's conviction was that the celebrant at the Mass was to lead the People of God eastward (ad orientem), to the direction where the sun and the stars “rise”, the direction of the Holy City Jerusalem, the direction from whence the Messiah will come in glory, in other words, in the direction proper to meet the Lord when He comes. At the Solemn Mass last Sunday, I mentioned that the Fathers (Bishops) of the Second Vatican Council had no intention of deviating from this immemorial ritual and symbolic posture. In fact, our new rite of Mass, as is clear in both the General Instruction and the rubrics of the Sacramentary, presupposes the fact that the priest, during the Liturgy of the Eucharist, as opposed to the Liturgy of the Word, is “facing East” (ad orientem), leading the people to the Lord. How and why the major change of posture and position of the celebrant at the altar occurred after the Second Vatican Council is material for another article at another time. Suffice it to say now that, since we can now move the wooden, free-standing altar and, therefore, will do so for solemn feasts at the 9:30 a.m., old Latin Rite Mass; for a trial period, we will also do so for solemn feasts at the 11:00 a.m., new English Rite Mass. Thus, the Solemn Mass in English will again conform to the ritual practice of the Church throughout its history, a practice which was not, in fact, altered by the Second Vatican Council but rather confirmed by it. The wooden, free-standing altar will remain in place for all other Masses at St. Patrick’s, and, therefore, the priest will conform to the familiar usage of the past twenty-five years and face the people during the Liturgy of the Eucharist. As always, the Pastor encourages and welcomes any comments or suggestions from the parishioners and friends of St. Patrick’s.

St. Augustine
Saint Augustine ( † 430) is called the Doctor of Grace.

In Peter the weak things of the world were chosen, to confound the strong; in Paul sin abounded so that grace might abound the more. In each of them what shone forth was the great grace and glory of God, who made them deserving, but did not find them so.

What else, after all, was he good enough to demonstrate in first choosing to call fishermen to the kingdom and only later on emperors, but that “whoever boasts, let him boast in the Lord” (1 Cor 1: 31)? Because of course he wasn’t being in different to the salvation of the well-born, the learned, the powerful, when he put before them the low-born, the unlettered, and the weak. But unless the weak had been chosen first in all their unimportance, the proud would not have been cured of their self-conceit. If the rich had been the first to be called by Christ, they would have thought, and have said, that all they were chosen for was their wealth; their fluency in talking, the fine style of their teaching, the brilliance of their knowledge, their nobility, their breeding, their tranquil mode of life, their royal authority.

Thus, their heads swollen with temporal and secular well-being, as though they were doing Christ a favor by being what they were, they would assume that he was paying them their due, not bestowing a favor on them; and they would neither understand nor grasp what they were going to be by God’s grace. So how much better for him now, how much more suitable for him first “to lift up the needy from the ground, and exalt the poor from the dunghill.”

Lisa Maksor
National Catholic Register Correspondent

It was on Flag Day in 1954 that the words “under God” were added to the Pledge of Allegiance. The controversial phrase owes its origin to the Knights of Columbus which lobbied for its inclusion.

The Bush administration—along with members of Congress, the Knights of Columbus and the American Center for Law and Justice—are hoping the high court will overturn last year’s 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruling that the phrase “one nation under God” is unconstitutional. The lower court said the words violate the separation of church and state.

Now the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty is filing a friend-of-the-court brief on behalf of the Knights, urging the Supreme Court to hear the case this fall. A decision on whether it will be heard is expected soon.

“In America, we’ve known ever since Thomas Jefferson that our rights are not gifts of the state but of the Creator. The state didn’t give them to us so the state can’t take them away. It’s crucial to remind ourselves—and the government—of that fact every time we pledge allegiance,” said Becket Fund president Kevin Hasson.

The Pledge of Allegiance was penned during the Reconstruction era, when the United States was beginning its ascendancy on the world stage as a result of the Industrial Revolution and the first wave of European immigrants were landing on the shores of the “land of opportunity” and taking the citizenship oath on the shores of Ellis Island.

The “Pledge to the Flag” was written by Francis Bellamy and James Upham—“I pledge allegiance to my flag and the Republic for which it stands—one nation indivisible—with liberty and just for all”—to help inspire American schoolchildren with a love for America and for all of the principles upon which it was founded.

The pair then published it in The Youth’s Companion magazine on Sept. 8, 1892, and sent copies of the Pledge to schools throughout the United States so 12 million schoolchildren could recite it during ceremonies commemorating the 400 year anniversary of Columbus’ discovery of America on Oct. 12, 1492. Immediately after the celebration, recitation of the Pledge became a daily occurrence in American schools.